Leaving home and being on your own for the first time can be a lot. There are a lot of new things you’re suddenly responsible for. It can feel weird having to pay bills and remember to schedule your own dentist appointments if those aren’t things you’ve had to do for yourself before. You might be wondering when that kind of stuff will feel like second nature, when you’ll actually feel like an adult. Maybe when you graduate from college or when you get your first real job. Maybe when you turn 21 – or 25 – or 30 you’ll finally feel like an adult and not an imposter who breaks out in a sweat every time you have to talk to someone on the phone. I don’t know what that magic number is, but until you reach it here are some tips to help you get there!
Start Saving Money
You might still be years away from a 401K, but it’s never too early to start saving for a rainy day. Just getting in the habit of putting fractions of your paycheck into a savings account or rounding each bill up to the nearest dollar and putting that change in a jar can add up. What you do with the money is up to you! An emergency fund is very important to have, you never know when your car is going to need a new battery! Likewise, your favorite band might be doing a once-in-a-lifetime show nearby and you’d be kicking yourself for twenty years if you missed it. Your whole life is going to be a tug of war between spending money on things you want and saving money for things you’re going to need, but the best way to walk that tightrope responsibly is to start putting the money away early. The earlier you do it, the easier it will be to put away increasingly larger amounts of money without drastically changing your budget.
Do Laundry Once A Week
Whether you have a washer and dryer where you live or you lug your duds all the way to the laundromat, having a specific laundry schedule can benefit you in the long run. Doing small, manageable loads once a week is so much easier than hauling twenty pounds of clothes and bedding to the laundromat. Besides, you should be changing your bedsheets once a week anyway. Bonus tip: have at least two sets of sheets that you can alternate between.
Call Your Grandma
She misses you, and she’s probably not on Instagram so she’s harder to keep in touch with than your high school friends.
Buy Your Furniture Second-Hand
It’s super easy to go to Target or Walmart and furnish your new apartment or dorm with fun and trendy furniture, but those pieces are a dime a dozen, and their costs add up. You can check on sites like Offer Up or Facebook Marketplace and find people selling used versions of those same bookshelves and desks in varying states of wear. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it to save the money or stick with something brand new, but seeing how well these products age should give you insight one way or the other. My best advice, though, is to skip the MDF altogether and look for used furniture that’s made from real wood. It might cost you a little more upfront, but it’ll last you a lot longer.
Learn To Cook
Knowing how to cook doesn’t have to mean anything as daunting as cooking a turkey or baking bread from scratch. There are ways to keep it simple and still make things more exciting than top ramen (or to make your top ramen more exciting). Start by learning from your parents or grandparents. If there’s a dish that you grew up with, ask them if you can help make it next time you’re home. Meal kits like Every Plate (who offer a student discount) and Dinnerly don’t just take the guesswork out of cooking but teach you fundamentals along the way. After a few months you’ll be able to mimic the recipes you’ve learned and get experimental, substituting ingredients and making new meals entirely. When you learn simple recipes that you can keep revisiting and reinventing, you won’t be overwhelmed by the idea of making dinner every night.
Bonus Tip: Have extra smoke detector batteries on hand. Always.
Smoke detector batteries always go off at the most inconvenient time, which is usually in the middle of the night. If you have more than one in your house, they will without a doubt die within a couple days of each other. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have extra batteries and something safe to stand on so that you can reach the ceiling (i.e. not a swiveling chair). When you wake up to incessant beeping at 3:00 AM the morning of your midterms, you’ll be glad you did.